Christianity and Culture in the 2016 Election

By Jim Rotholz.a katz / Shutterstock.com  Election years reveal much about American culture that otherwise lies hidden from view. The 2016 presidential contest has been especially revealing, exposing a modern-day form of tribalism that afflicts Americans across the political spectrum.One essential trait of tribal affiliation is establishing social borders: line-drawing, “us” versus “them,” “our people” against “not our people.” In the American political arena it has devolved i … [Read more...]

Religious Communities: Welcoming the “One-Percent”

By Shaun Casey.The success of refugee resettlement undoubtedly has required a “whole of society collaboration,” and it is a woefully under-told good news story.  During the past few months, I’ve been privileged to have one-on-one conversations with some of the “1 percent” in the United States. To be clear, I’m not talking about the wealthiest of the approximately 318 million Americans in the United States. I’m referring to refugees resettled in cities like Des Moines … [Read more...]

Poland’s Battle Between Theocracy and Secular Democracy

By Beth Holmgren, Duke University.   In early April, the Middle Ages engaged in an unusual skirmish with the 21st century in cities across Poland. During a Sunday mass in this overwhelmingly Catholic country, priests read their congregations a letter from the Polish Episcopate calling for an unconditional ban on abortion. Scores of women then walked out in protest, their exodus filmed in famous churches such as St. Mary’s Basilica in Gdańsk and Saint Anne’s Church in Wars … [Read more...]

Daniel Berrigan and Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold: Missing Voices for Human Worth

By Shalom Goldman.Embed from Getty ImagesApril saw the passing of two very courageous American religious figures, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan and Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold. Berrigan, a Catholic priest and member of the Jesuit order, had reached the age of 94. Rabbi Gold, a Conservative rabbi, was 92.Berrigan was born in 1921 to a working-class Catholic family in the Midwest. Gold was born in Poland in 1923 and with his family was deported to Auschwitz at age 17; he was the only one of hi … [Read more...]

Trump, Nietzsche, and the Jewish Tradition

By Rabbi Francis Nataf. An American acquaintance recently told me that there is only one question every Israeli was asking him on his last visit—what’s with America and Trump? Like him or not, Donald Trump has captured the world’s imagination in a way very few have done before. Almost consciously setting himself up as a buffoon and a ruffian, he has nonetheless become a very serious contender for the world’s most powerful office.In response, an army of pundits has struggled t … [Read more...]

How Much Does Race Matter? A Conversation About the Obama Presidency

By the Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson and the Rev. Dr. James Forbes.  The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, and the venerable Rev. Dr. James Forbes, the first African American pastor of the famed Riverside Church, sat down to have a one-on-one reflection of race and the Obama presidency during Black History Month.KH: Coming to the end of the Obama presidency, it seems important that we gain some clarity on the impact of race over … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Realities of Climate Change

By Sharon Friedman.Dear Pope Francis, I know you don’t know about climate change. I know because I worked in the business (as climate advisor to a U.S. government executive, pretty much the equivalent of a mid- level bishop in the Roman Catholic Church).  So, like any high level person, you are listening to your advisors.  But I think they may be leading you in a direction that is not the best one for you as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, nor for the rest of the world. I don’t know if … [Read more...]

Dangers of Legitimizing Bigotry

By Richard Cizik.Last week, a Sikh American resident from the Chicago suburbs was brutally assaulted by a random stranger.  The perpetrator told the man, “Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!” before the victim fell unconscious. This innocent individual—a member of his local community and a father of two—was identified with terrorists, and bigotry was used to justify a horrific beating.  The origin of the word “bigot” dates as far back as 1598.  According to Wikipedia, the story … [Read more...]

Outlawing the Jain Fast-Unto-Death Is a Bioethical Issue

By Brianne Donaldson. On August 10, 2015, the Rajasthan High Court outlawed the ancient and rare Jain practice of fasting unto death on the basis that it is not “an essential religious practice” protected by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution protecting freedom of religion.[1] Nor is the “right to death” protected by Article 21 that ensures the right to life and property. This case highlights a fundamental bioethical tension between killing and letting die that remains unresol … [Read more...]

The Moral Case Against Drone Strikes

By Rabbi Michael Lerner.There was a brief and rare moment this year in which people openly discussed the U.S. lethal drones program. For a few days, the Obama administration apologized for a strike, the American people expressed shock, and the media took note. But that moment ended as quickly as it began, and only happened in the first place because a U.S. citizen was inadvertently killed by an American drone strike. For the remainder of the year, hundreds to thousands of non-Americans … [Read more...]


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